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Cannabis congee: New evidence reveals heady Tang dynasty staple food

Soldier’s tomb proves cannabis was staple grain in ancient China

A marijuana plant. (AP Photo)

A marijuana plant. (AP Photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — New archeological evidence has emerged that cannabis was a dietary staple in China during the Tang Dynasty.

Though it is widely believed a kind of cannabis congee was consumed by the ancients, there has been a dearth of hard archeological evidence to back up the theory. Yet researchers now claim the well-preserved tomb of a Tang soldier in Shanxi Province shows definitively that cannabis was not only used for recreation, clothing, and medicine, but also as a food staple, according to a South China Morning Post report.

The tomb was unearthed in 2019 by laborers who were building an elementary school playground in Taiyuan, Shanxi’s provincial capital. Archeologists found many jars containing staple grains, one of which housed cannabis, with some seeds still exhibiting their natural pigment.

The plant is listed as one of the “wu gu” (五穀), or “five staple crops,” in historical texts, though most contemporary Chinese history textbooks describe its ancient cultivation as an “economic activity” for textile manufacturing. Marijuana was banned by the Chinese Communist Party in the 1950s, and strict punishments for growing, using, or selling it are enforced in China to this day.

Updated : 2022-05-21 18:41 GMT+08:00